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Waterhouse Mill site

Project completed

The Waterhouse estate is now complete. The pedestrian way along the river bank is popular and the access under the Middlewood Way arches to the childrens playground, the Recreation Ground and the Vale Inn is well used.

The house builder Bellway acquired the Waterhouse site and submitted a further planning application, 13/2406M, to CEC designed to reflect Bellway’s designs for houses and their preferred layout to the site. This was approved.

The site was cleared and construction of the drains, roads and new houses began in March 2014.

The new Co-Op shop was also constructed adjacent to the Middlewood Way viaduct and opened in October 2014. This new shop proved to be a huge success with much increased turnover compared to the old shop at Albert Road. However, the heavy use has destroyed the car park in only four years, and it has been completely reconstructed in September 2018.

The estate is due to be completed by the end of 2017.

Waterhouse mill site redevelopment

Kay Metzeler closed their factory at Waterhouse mill at the end of 2011. The site was owned not by Kays or their group, British Vita, but by a property company, Rock Asset Management (RAM), who leased the site to Kays. This lease had more than 16 years to run so the owners claimed to be in no hurry to redevelop. Kays, of course, having finished with the site, were keen for redevelopment in order to release them from their lease! RAM were sympathetic to this preference.

It was 50 years since this nine acre site was last developed – in 1962 the previous historic Waterhouse cotton mill was demolished and the then modern industrial premises were built. So this has been a once off opportunity for Bollington to express its interest in the future of this site – we have not left it to others to impose future development upon us. That said, we can only influence the development plan – the site owners are entitled to propose whatever they think they can get planning permission for. But they told us that they would prefer to reach a consensus with the town in order to avoid an acrimonious planning dispute.


This site was developed in the 1780s when Waterhouse cotton mill was first built – see the history of Waterhouse mill. This finally closed in 1960 and the mill was demolished in 1962. The site was immediately redeveloped with a modern industrial premises for Kay Metzeler. Now, 50 years later, Kays have closed this factory. The buildings were purpose built for Kays. They were well worn and no longer came up to modern industrial requirements and would be demolished. Kays were also responsible for removing any contamination from the site. There proved to be very little anyway.

Page of pictures of the demolition.

What’s happened so far?

In autumn 2010 the owners of the site, Rock Asset Management, approached Bollington Town Council to tell them that this site was likely to be redeveloped and to acknowledge that the town would probably have a view as to what should be built there. A meeting was arranged between the two and the Town Council confirmed that the town would indeed wish to influence the nature of the development.

Bollington Civic Society consultation

Because of the rules relating to town councils and planning decisions, the Town Council cannot be involved in discussions about a possible development and then pass comment on a subsequent planning application. For this reason, late in 2010, Bollington Town Council commissioned Bollington Civic Society to undertake further discussions with Rock Asset Management and to conduct a consultation with the people of Bollington. The Civic Society met senior management from Rock, together with their architect, on two occasions, in December and January. At each of these meetings there was exploration of the planning, financial and physical constraints surrounding the project, the objectives of both parties, and the possible aspirations of the Bollington community.

We were agreed that we would like to see the site redeveloped rather than left derelict. Rock need any redevelopment to be financially viable which means it has to earn more than the present rent. Both parties wished to reach a consensus before a planning application was submitted to Cheshire East Council – we both wanted to avoid a protracted planning dispute, inquiry, etc. We discussed a variety of possible redevelopments but did not agree on any particular development. The Town Council and the Civic Society wanted the people of Bollington to have a say, to express their aspirations, to provide guidance, before we had further discussions.

BCS questionnaire and the result

A questionnaire was delivered to every house in Bollington during the first two weeks of February 2011 to enable the public to express their views. There was an enormous response – 755 Questionnaires were returned and the results are published below. Bollington Civic Society and Bollington Town Council sincerely thanked the residents of Bollington for so enthusiastically taking part in this consultation and making the results so meaningful and valuable.

The results of the survey and a subsequent consultation day were presented to Bollington Town Council. There have been further discussions with Rock at which agreement was reached with them as to what kind of development would answer the consensus views of the community. There were also several discussions with the CEC Planners at Macclesfield to ensure that they would go along with the kind of development envisaged.

Please note that it was impossible to satisfy every person’s desires – there were strongly opposed views with respect, for instance, to the need for a supermarket, with slightly more opposed than for. We were trying to make this as democratic as possible and the Civic Society were certainly not making decisions on this matter on behalf of the community. We were obtaining the views of the community and passing them to the elected council.

Owner’s consultation

The owner’s architect drew up proposals which were put to the community before they submit a planning application. There was a Public Consultation on 8th October 2011 at Bollington Civic Hall. Every home in Bollington received a leaflet advising them of this. There was a very big turnout; at least 1,000 people visited this consultation and more than 250 gave their views to the site owners and their principle architect, Joe Mattin.

There was a striking coincidence of views with the BCS consultation and of the three options for the layout of the site Option A was preferred by 49% of those responding.

Presentation to Bollington Town Council Strategic Planning Committee

On the evening of 25th October 2011 Joe Mattin, the owner’s architect, presented the results of the consultation to the BTC Strategic Planning Committee and c.30 members of the public in an open meeting.

The public attending the 8th October event expressed approval for the general direction of the proposed redevelopment preferring Option A over the other two options. The major concern was the availability of car parking space for local facilities such as the Arts Centre and the churches.

The Coop have now agreed to move their shop to the site. There would also be a pharmacy with the new medical centre. There would be a few relatively small units available for those wanting office space.

The owners were in negotiation to buy the Adlington Road industrial site. This would provide emergency access to the Waterhouse site and a small new development of properties designed specifically for older people.


At the BTC presentation Joe Mattin said that Kays would be finished with the site by the end of the year (2011). He was intending to submit an outline planning application by 11th November in order that CEC Northern Planning Committee could express a decision by mid January 2012. However, we were not aware of any submission of plans by 20th February 2012.

Once the outline application is passed the owners will seek a developer to undertake the construction of the site.

A full planning application could then be submitted on behalf of the owners and the developer, fully informed by the outcome of the earlier application. This was expected to be completed and passed by late spring 2012, but we must now be looking at autumn 2012.

Construction work could have begun by early summer 2012, but will now be somewhat later, and would last for 3.5 years. This length of development would give necessary time for the Health authorities to organise themselves to provide the necessary funding for the development of the new medical centre, which the community sees as the centrepiece of the development.

However, funding for a new medical centre could not be agreed and the Waterhouse Medical Centre withdrew their interest and decided to undertake a re-development of their own site. A pharmacy would also be included in that development. The new medical centre opened in September 2013. Refurbishment of the Waterhouse (for the pharmacy) had not even begun by November 2015!

BCS Questionnaire Results!

The votes on all those questionnaires returned by Friday 25th February 2011 were analysed and the results are available …
Voting results, with graphs
The Civic Society received hundreds of comments and those received by Monday 28th February 2011 were collected into a single document …
Collected comments
The Civic Society prepared a document of Frequently Asked Questions …
Frequently asked questions